Auldearn

 

Associated Chapels: Cawdor (St Mary); Easter Clune; Foynesfield (St Ninian); Geddes (St Mary); Holy Rood; Invererne; Kincraggie (St Mary); Lethen; Lochloy; Rait Castle (St Mary).

OS Ref: NH 920556    RCAHMS No: NH 95NW 6.01

St Columba is associated with Auldearn. However, it is not likely that he himself was ever here but it is quite possible that the church was first established by clerics from Iona. It is not even known for sure if the medieval church was dedicated to him. The antiquity of the site is, however, well established.

The church of Auldearn with its chapel of Invererne was granted to the Bishop of Moray c1189x99 by William the Lion, King of Scotland.

 

The medieval remains of Auldearn church.

The interior of the medieval remains.

 

The present church of Auldearn was built in 1757. However, adjoining it, and, sadly, in a fairly poor state of repair, are the remains of the medieval church which bear traces of Gothic architecture. From the earliest days of diocesan organisation the importance of this church was recognised by the fact that it was established by Bishop Bricius (1208-15) as the prebend of the Dean of the cathedral church, the official who had control over all the cathedral's affairs and who, in chapter, 'ranked' above the bishop. This prebend was augmented with the chapel of Invererne (Invernairn, now Nairn). It is interesting to note that Nairn was much less significant as a church and, we can assume therefore, as a community, than Auldearn in these early days even though there was a Royal Castle there. We should note, however, Tranter's comments - "recent discoveries have shown a prehistoric site at Kingstep, to the East of the town (Nairn). The 4th Century St Ninian seems to have come here and Columban missionaries in the 6th Century are said to have found a Christian cell here already established." He does not give his sources for this information.

 

Memorial to a Hay of Lochloy.

Neglected memorials within the medieval remains.

 

The Castle of Inshoch was the seat of Hay of Lochloy and Park,an ancient branch of of the house or Errol. (Park is to the west of Auldearn.) South east of Inshoch is the house of Penick, the seat of, and built by Alexander Dunbar, sometime Dean of Moray, or by his son, reflecting the inseparable link between this parish and the Deans of Moray. In ancient times Penick was part of the priory lands of Urquhart.

 

Memorial.

Lancet window showing the church's pedigree.

 

There was an annual fair on 21st June, the Festival of St Columba, which was called St Colm's Market.

 

 

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